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Get Over Being A Sugar Cookie

Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander U. S. Special Operations Command and Navy Seal spoke last week at the U of Texas Commencement Address. The motto of the Austin campus is, “What starts here changes the world”, and Admiral McRaven used this motto as the theme of his speech. In Seal training, one of the things recruits have to endure is uniform inspection, and it is designed so that they will fail. No matter how hard they prepare to have every aspect of their uniform in perfect condition, the instructors will find some aspect that does not measure up. When that happens, the recruit has to run, fully clothed, down into the ocean surf, then roll around in the sand until they are completely covered. They have to wear that uniform for the rest of the day.  It is called, getting ‘sugar cookied’. Some recruits can’t get over this humiliation and the fact that they have failed when they thought they did everything right, and they drop out of the program. In short, they don’t learn to handle failure. In school, in our career, and in life we will all likely fail many times. But it is how we handle the failure that separates the top performers from the rest. If you are going to change the world…Get over being a sugar...
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Don’t Be Afraid of the Circus

In this season of graduation ceremonies and speeches, I decided to share some of the encouragement I heard given to students as they move on to their next phase of life. At the University of Texas combined graduation ceremony on May 17, Admiral William H McRaven, Commander U. S. Special Operations Command and Navy Seal, gave the commencement address. His theme was what he had learned in Seal training that students should take into their career after college. The U of Texas has the motto: What starts here changes the world. My niece, who was graduating last weekend, actually had “What starts here” on top of her cap so we could find her among the thousands of graduates. Admiral McRaven framed the points of his speech with the phrase, “If you want to change the world…” and one of the examples was, “don’t be afraid of the circus”. He explained that in Seal training, the soldiers are driven through extreme mental and physical conditioning tests each day, and they are designed such that some of them will fail. Those who fail to pass all of the exams of the day are then invited to the circus, which is an additional two hours of intense physical conditioning that same evening. If you get invited to the circus, the odds increase that you will fail more of the daily exams the following day(s), because your body will not have had enough time to rest and recover, and you will get invited to even more circuses. But what they have learned is that soldiers who got invited to multiple circuses built up additional stamina, and by the end of Seal training they were often the most fit graduates of the program. So when your job is tough, and you think nothing is going well, or you are having to work harder than your peers, think what it may be preparing you for. “If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circus.”  ...
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How Much Was a Talent Worth?

Almost everyone has heard of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-18). I heard the story so many times growing up that I didn’t pay much attention to the details.  You probably know the story: A man was about to go on a journey, and before he left he gave his possessions to his slaves.  He gave one slave five talents, one slave two talents, and the third slave one talent.  And in Matt 25:15, it says he chose these amounts based on their “ability”. So, did you ever stop to think how much a talent was worth back then? I always assumed it was a small or insignificant amount. In today’s economy, I guessed probably less than $100. And if you thought the same thing – you would be missing one of the key points also! I looked in biblegateway.com and found that a talent was equal to ‘about 20 years of a day laborer’s wage‘. In today’s economy, if you assume that a day laborer (i.e., manual labor worker) makes about $20,ooo/year, then one talent was worth $400,000. Five talents back then would be the equivalent of $2,000,000 today. And these amounts were allocated based on their abilities – not on their interests, or on their personality styles, but on their skill sets! It makes a big difference when we are helping our youth choose a career to help them using the best data available. If the guy in this parable had a total of $3,200,000, and allocated it according to their abilities, don’t you thing we should look at a student’s skills before sending them off to college and investing over $100,000 for them to get a college degree?...
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Interests are Over-rated!

By Mike McCormack One of my biggest pet peeves is how much emphasis young adults (and many consultants) put on interests when making career choices. It is also amazing how many assessment instruments there are for interests – and how many people think they are just as important as talents or skills. The usual way interests are used is to tell someone to follow their passions (interests), and everything will turn out just fine. We  assume that if a person has an interest in something, then they must also be talented in that area. How many high school athletes do you know (especially males) who are passionate about playing their high school sport as a professional? How many of them actually have the body type, and physical skills, and the determination to play a professional sport?  The percentages of high school athletes who go on to play professional sports are so low they are staggering! If you want to emphasize interests – do it in the negative way. That means, if you don’t like something – by all means don’t do it.  There is a great example of this negative interest philosophy in the Bible. In Judges 7 Gideon was about to go to war against the Midianites with 32,000 men in his army, which God said were too many. The first way he reduced the number was to say, “Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return” (to his family). In other words, if you don’t like this kind of work (i.e., going to war), then go home. Of all the things you should take into account when choosing a career, interests is the category that is most likely to change. It is O.K. for interests to be part of the career choice equation, just be careful how you use them and how much weight you put on...
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Myth Busting: They Will Figure It Out In College

Most parents think it is O.K. to send their kids off to college to figure things out – things like what they will do with the rest of their lives – because that is where most of us started to figure things out. The problem is we live in a different world now! When we (parents) went to college, very few of the colleges were ‘full’, so if you could fill out the application, you could probably get in All four years of college ‘only’ cost $12-$15,000 Most of us could find jobs when we graduated, and those jobs paid at least as much as we paid to attend all four years of college Almost no one had student debt upon leaving college, because we didn’t even think of getting a credit card until after we graduated. Fast forward to 2014: College applications are extremely competitive, and students can’t go anywhere they want Four years of college cost $100-$200,000, and only 31% of students are actually getting out in four years! Only 30% of college students have a job offer in-hand at graduation Average starting salaries (approx. $40,000) are only a fraction of what they paid to get their degree Average student debt at graduation is over $25,000 Now that you understand the situation, let’s talk about the resources available. The US Department of Education recommends that the student to counselor ratio in high school be no more than 250:1.  The average U.S. public high school ratio is 472:1.  And if you think that is reason for concern, just wait, because it gets worse.  The average student:counselor ratio in colleges with less than 20,000 students enrolled is 1,889:1, and for colleges with over 20,000 students the ratio is 5,876:1! So thinking that your child will figure out what they want to do in life during college – and that will all work out well – is one of the biggest risks you could ever take. It is kind of like going to Vegas and betting all of your money on one single spin of the roulette wheel.  I guess it is possible you could win (and win big), it just isn’t very likely! To improve your child’s chances of finding success after college, check out our Ultimate Student Success...
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When Should Students Start Thinking About Careers?

On March 17, 2014 the Wall Street Journal published an article with the headline, “Using Salary Prospects to Choose a College Major“. In it, they covered two topics that we talk about often with our clients: What information should they use when choosing a career (and therefore a major), and When should they start doing this. The writer interviewed several consultants to ask them how much students should use the potential future salary earnings projections when choosing their career path. One comment from Ms. Schneider in the article caught my attention when she said, “…any useful college advice to students has to start with their own interests, inclinations and sense of possible career paths. But the reality is that, at too many post-secondary institutions, students are allowed to leave all planning for the future until they get around to it on their own—which is usually much too late.” I found it interesting because she points out the problems of waiting until the student gets around to this planning phase, and because she led with the typical default approach of focusing first on their interests. And she did NOT mention (and neither did any of the other consultants quoted in the article) that most colleges suggest or recommend that students use assessments instruments that are not reliable, and many of those instruments were not created or intended for use in job or career matching. Bottom line, if leave it up to the colleges, or let your kids do what everybody else is doing, they will likely experience the same (poor) results most college students are experiencing these days – many of which we cover in our Ultimate Student Success Process...
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